Changes in the Climate

Climate change is reflected in a host of shifts around the globe. Scientists have been tracking the patterns in Earth’s changing temperatures, ice masses, weather events, and oceans.


Global Average Temperature Has Been Rising

Global average temperature has increased in recent decades, and the most recent decade was the warmest in the past century. Land areas and the Arctic region have experienced the greatest warming.

This video helps to visualize rising global surface temperatures. Red indicates temperatures that are higher than the long-term average. Blue indicates temperatures that are lower than the long-term average.

Visualization from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, provided by Robert B. Schmunk (NASA/GSFC GISS). Source




Next: Changes to Ice Masses


Additional Resources from the National Academies

Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices is a web resource that includes a free 36-page booklet offers answers to common questions about the science of climate change, as well as a 26-minute video, PowerPoint presentation, and image gallery.



Climate Change: Evidence & Causes is a free, 36-page booklet produced by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society that describes what is well-established and where understanding is still developing in the area of climate change. It includes a Q&A, climate basics, and a figure gallery. 


The materials in the Koshland Science Museum’s Earth Lab exhibit are based on reports of the National Research Council and works of the U.S. government, and have been vetted for scientific accuracy by a panel of expert advisors.

The Greenhouse Effect

Image based on a figure from US EPA. For more information, see America's Climate Choices.

Toboggan Glacier, Alaska

Toboggan Glacier, Alaska, pictured in 1905 and 2008. Images from United States Geological Survey. Source


Plateau Glacier, Alaska

Plateau Glacier, Alaska, pictured in 1961 and 2003. Images from United States Geological Survey. Source


Drought Impacts in Kansas

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Landsat Missions Gallery, "Effects of Drought," U.S. Department of the Interior / USGS and NASA. Source

Heat Waves

Graph derived from EM-DAT, The International Disaster Database, Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED;, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium, v12.07.

Glacier Decline

From U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States: 2009 Report. Source

Heavy Rainfall Over the United States

Graph provided by Dr. Kenneth Kunkel at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS-NC), North Carolina State University and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC. Source

Global Mean Sea Level Rise

Data from Church, J. and N. White (2011), Sea-level rise from the late 19th to the early 21st century. Surveys in geophysics, 1573-0956. DOI: 10.1007/s10712-011-9119-1. Source

Precipitation Frequency and Intensity

From U.S. Global Change Research Program. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States: 2009 Report. Source

Ocean Acidification

National Research Council, Ocean Acidification: Starting with the Science. Source

Erosion of calcium carbonate shells due to ocean acidification

Images courtesy of Ulf Riebesell, IFM-GEOMAR. Source

Healthy sea snails

Images courtesy of Russell Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and Census of Marine Life (CoML). Source